State Wildlife Board refuses to rectify the cost of 2 pc of the high-speed train sought by the promoter of the project
Maharashtra’s State Wildlife Council (SBWL) on Tuesday rejected a proposal to rectify the 2% cost of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train / bullet train project, requested by the project developer.
In March 2019, the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) authorized construction work in and around the wildlife areas of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. In accordance with the authorization, the project promoter was to deposit two percent of Rs 4,143.46 crore (calculated according to the area covered by environmentally sensitive areas), or Rs 83.02 crore, to the SGNP. The money will be used for habitat development in wildlife areas.
At the time of approval, the environmentally sensitive area of Tungareshvara Wildlife Sanctuary was not notified.
Eight months after the bullet train project received approval, the 5.7 hectare area of Tungareshvara Wildlife Sanctuary was declared an environmentally sensitive area (ESZ). Previously, the estimated SEZ around the sanctuary was 110 hectares on the basis of which the cost of the project was calculated.
As a result, the estimated cost of the project fell to Rs 497.27 crore from Rs 4,143.46 crore.
The project agency agreed to deposit two percent of the cost of the project – Rs 9.95 crore – for the part of the project located in the environmentally sensitive area.
However, the SBWL rejected the rectification, saying it was not “justified”. The Chief Wildlife Custodian said, “If this proposed project is exempt, other similar projects will also require a 2% reduction in the cost of the project and projects that were in the area considered environmentally sensitive and are now outside the environmentally sensitive areas finally notified must be totally exempt from payment of 2% of the amount due. Citing the precedence of this project, other project agencies may request a concession / waiver of payment of two percent of the amount due.